Tuesday started on a tense note in the city as roughly 10,000 striking industrial workers armed with sticks and iron rods marched down National Highway 8 in response to a day-long shutdown call by All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
The shutdown was called to protest against the death of a worker in a clash outside the Rico factory, on Sunday.
However, the shutdown call did not generate the expected response amongst workers. Where 1 lakh workers from 150 factories were expected, only around 10,000 participated, said assistant commissioner of police Sumeet Kuhar.
In the morning, protesters stopped a police vehicle and roughed up Rajesh Arya, a senior official of Rico Auto, who was
travelling in it. The policemen responsible for his security fled from the scene.
A few incidents of protesters stoning policemen were also reported around the same time.
But as the day wore on, the violence abated.
The assembled workers held a gate meeting outside the Rico factory while Haryana Police personnel stood guard.
Even among the assembled ‘protesters’, quite a few seemed to be mere rabble collected by AITUC members to put up a show of strength.
“We make biscuits here and work eight hours everyday,” said Bachcha Prasad, one of the ‘protesters’, who was not aware that Rico — the company he was protesting against — was one of India’s foremost automotive component manufacturers.
Although nobody was seriously hurt, the strike did affect production at many factories.
The morning shift operations at the Hero Honda factory were affected as supply of components got disrupted.
“The ongoing workers’ problem at some of the component suppliers’ plants has impacted our operations,” Hero Honda said in a
“Production in the morning shift of our Gurgaon plant was impacted due to short supply of components. We hope things will return to normal soon.”
Other major factories affected included Sunbeam Casting and Microtech, where about one thousand workers remained on strike.
Workers from Hero Honda, Honda Motorcycle and some from Bawal also took part in the condolence meet.
Traffic on the Gurgaon Expressway remained largely unaffected.
While the district administration had made a committee to start talks with the striking workers, officers at Rico were not hopeful of a breakthrough.
Surinder K Chaudhary, senior vice president (HR) of Rico Auto, said, “We wanted to go out to participate in the meeting called by the district administration but could not do so fearing an attack from the workers who are openly threatening to kill us and avenge the death of one of their co-workers.”